Multitasking on NPR

I love NPR.  One of my favorite shows is Talk of the Nation, which I listen to via Podcast.  In particular, I always look forward to Science Friday.  This past Friday, there was a topic that really hit home. The title of the show was Multitasking May Not Mean Higher Productivity.  Now, I am someone who prides themselves on being able to multitask.  However, this episode caused me to look at multitasking in a different light.

Dr. Nass was the guest for this show.  He is a HCI (Human Computer Interaction) expert from Stanford.  His studies on multitasking focus on mixed media multitasking.  That is, gettng several inputs from several sources at once.  IE part of what I am trying to overcome. Apparently, we are all very bad at it.  And the better we THINK we are, the worse we actually are.  Oops.

This exceprt is the most terrifying:

“It’s very frightening to us, and I think the reason it’s so frightening is we actually didn’t study people while they were multitasking. We studied people who were chronic multitaskers, and even when we did not ask them to do anything close to the level of multitasking they were doing, their cognitive processes were impaired. So basically, they are worse at most of the kinds of thinking not only required for multitasking but what we generally think of as involving deep thought.”

So multitasking may be harming the quality of everything I do, whether I am multitasking at the time or not.  Yikes.

While I’m not sure I belive all of this or not, it does support my goals here.  I am going to be cautious and try to multitask less.  At least in my personal life.


One response to this post.

  1. I just read a fascinating article about how multitasking is a way for the brain to seek novelty. It becomes an addiction and and craving and when it starts to lack, our dopamine levels drop and we crave more, thus our productivity suffers as a result. I wrote about this in my blog and linked to the article.


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